Ukraine: Daily Briefing
March 22, 2017, 5 PM Kyiv time
Canadian and US soldiers training Ukrainian soldiers -Yavoriv, Ukraine.
Photo US Department of Defense
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka with tanks, mortars and grenade launchers. Near the Donetsk airport, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian psotiions with mortars. Near Zaysteve, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars and artillery. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Maryinka with mortars and tanks. At Novotroitske, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with artillery. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled at Novozvanivka, Krymske and Zolote with mortars.
2. US Senate Armed Services Committee hears testimony on US Policy and Strategy in Europe
On March 21, the US Senate Armed Services Committee held hearings on US Policy and Strategy in Europe. Appearing at the Committee, former NATO Deputy Secretary General (2012-16) Alexander Vershbow stated, “Three years ago this month, Russia illegally annexed Crimea and laid the groundwork for its campaign to destabilize Ukraine. That moment marked the end of a period of more than twenty years when the countries of the West looked to Russia as a partner. Of course, even before 2014, Russia had demonstrated a pattern of destabilizing countries in its neighborhood, particularly Moldova and Georgia. But Russia’s aggression against Ukraine – including the first changing of borders by force in Europe since World War II – represented a new strategic reality, and a wakeup call for the United States and its NATO Allies. That new strategic reality is even starker today: Russia has not only continued to undermine the post-WWII and post-Cold War international order – an order based on respect for the sovereignty of nations, and the rule of law- through its illegal occupation of Crimea and its ongoing war of aggression in Eastern Ukraine; Russia has also engaged in political aggression against our societies, using cyber-attacks, disinformation, propaganda, and influence operations (what the Soviets called ‘active measures’) to affect the outcome of elections and to undermine confidence in our democratic institutions. In essence, Russia is trying to undo decades of progress toward a more stable and integrated Euro-Atlantic community. It wants to turn back the clock to a time when Russia dominated neighboring countries through force and coercion. Using military intimidation, economic warfare and ‘active measures,’ it aims to weaken and divide NATO and the European Union, which it sees as the main obstacles to its expanded power in Europe[…]To achieve a more stable and constructive relationship with Moscow that is sustainable for the long term, we must speak with Russia from a position of strength. During the Cold War, a strong deterrence paved the way for détente, for arms control agreements, and for our relatively predictable and stable relationship with the Soviet Union. Our situation today is different, but it requires a similar approach. […]NATO has been engaged for many years in assisting Georgia and Ukraine to carry out defense reforms, to raise the proficiency of their armed forces, and to bring them closer to NATO standards. Since 2014, NATO has expanded these efforts through the Substantial NATO Georgia Package and Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine, and it has deployed a team of resident defense advisors to each country. But both these efforts are relatively underresourced in comparison to European Union efforts in the police and judicial sectors, and I recommend that the Trump Administration push for their expansion. Bilaterally, the U.S. has provided non-lethal defensive weapons assistance to Ukraine, and together with Canada, offered valuable training to Ukrainian armed forces. This has helped them prevent further Russian incursions in the Donbas. We should consider expanding this support both quantitatively and qualitatively, to include lethal defensive weapons such as anti-tank weapons and air defenses, if Russia continues its aggression in Eastern Ukraine.” The full testimony and video of the hearing is available at https://www.armed-services.
senate.gov/hearings/17-03-21- us-policy-and-strategy-in- europe
3. National Bank of Ukraine revises macroeconomic forecast
The National Bank of Ukraine stated, “On Monday, 20 March 2017, the NBU’s Monetary Policy Committee held an ad-hoc meeting to approve updated NBU’s forecasts for 2017-2018 taking into account the effects of the ban on trade with uncontrolled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The same day, the NBU sent the updated forecasts to the IMF as a part of the review process of the macroeconomic forecasts under the IMF’s program with Ukraine. The NBU expects that the greatest effect from the trade ban for Ukraine’s economy will be felt this year. Seizure of Ukrainian enterprises by terrorists and disruption of production and distribution chains will reduce metallurgy and mining output, production of coke and electricity. Due to the trade ban, 2017 economic growth rates will be 1.3 pp lower than projected in the January forecast. This negative effect will be largely offset by other factors, primarily by more favorable prices for Ukrainian exports (metals, metal ore, and grains) than the ones forecasted earlier. Net positive effect of favorable external conditions on the economic growth is estimated at the level of 0.4 pp. Therefore, considering the effects of the trade blockade and favorable external situation, the NBU has revised its previous 2017 growth forecast from 2.8% to 1.9%.”